Friday, February 3, 2023

Public hearing on Oakland Pointe Apartments deferred until August

Connelly Builders is proposing a 126-unit Oakland Pointe Apartments at 7581 Richmond Road. (Courtesy photo/Arch Marston)
Connelly Builders is proposing a 126-unit Oakland Pointe Apartments at 7581 Richmond Road. (Courtesy photo/Arch Marston)

A public hearing for a proposed 126-apartment affordable housing complex in Toano has been delayed until August.

Connelly Development LLC has requested the James City County Planning Commission defer the public hearing on the Oakland Pointe Apartments for several months so the developer can “refine its proposal,” according to an April 24 letter to the Planning Commission from Timothy Trant, the developer’s attorney.

The deferral comes almost two weeks after the developer and the Marston family, the owners of the property, held a community meeting to gain community feedback on the project.

On April 18, the day before the community meeting, Trant told WYDaily the Planning Commission hearing would likely be delayed.

The meeting, which lasted more than two hours, became heated at times. Residents asked the developer about background checks for apartment applicants, how property managers will prevent crime and whether the five buildings will be visible from nearby roads.

“The applicant received valuable input from the meeting and needs additional time to refine its proposal in response to the feedback it received,” the letter reads.

The Oakland Pointe Apartments has gained attention from residents since it was proposed last year.

While some residents are pushing to keep agricultural and forestal land rural in James City County, others have cited the need for more affordable housing in the area.

The development is proposed for a nearly 15-acre parcel owned by Lisa Marston. The parcel has been in family of her husband, Arch Marston, since 1907 and is the last remaining piece of an original 340-acre parcel.

As proposed, the apartments would span five buildings and include more than 3.400 feet of walking trails, a sidewalk to the Candle Station Shopping Center and a clubhouse.

The land is now zoned A1 for agriculture, but it is designated in the county’s comprehensive plan for moderate density residential land is within the primary service area — an area county officials have designated for growth.

Points of discussion

Since its original application, the developer has also worked to mitigate certain unfavorable factors or the project, including traffic.

A traffic study by DRW Consultants LLC also showed there would need to be lane modifications in the area around the proposed complex to accommodate an additional 887 daily trips complex residents and guests would make.

The Marstons said the traffic impact analysis has been recently reviewed and approved by VDOT, and includes certain road improvements that will mitigate the additional traffic from the apartments.

A James City County Planning Department report also says the apartment complex would also have a $635,589 annual negative fiscal impact because of its drain on county resources, such as area schools.

Affordable housing

Lisa Marston, who owns the land in question, said she was inspired to provide additional affordable housing in the county.

Local leaders have said service industry workers in Greater Williamsburg cannot afford to live in the area because of high rent and real estate costs.

According to the Planning Commission, the apartments would help fill a void in affordable housing in the county, an issue that James City County officials have been discussing for years.

Rents would be between $495 for a two-bedroom, 1½-bath apartment and $940 for a three-bedroom, two-bath unit, Lisa Marston said.

Lisa Marston has attended several affordable housing task force meetings in James City County as well, she said.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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